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Sep 16th

The Glenn Miller Story - King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Sean Stirling

The Glenn Miller Story

Glenn Miller was the great American Big Band leader and arranger whose own distinctive sound provided much needed escapism during the Second World War.  The music came to a tragic end in December 1944 when Miller’s transporter plane disappeared over the English Channel following a broadcast in England for the BBC.  You may remember the 1954 movie The Glenn Miller Story starring James Stewart in the title role with June Allyson as Glenn’s wife, Helen Burger.  So moving is the final scene in that movie as June Allyson holds back the tears as she listens to the first broadcast of Miller’s band, without Miller, while the children open gifts under the Christmas tree.  It never fails to make this reviewer shed a tear or two. The Glenn Miller legacy lives on through regular tours and performances by the Glenn Miller Orchestra and in this new production from producer Bill Kenwright.

Portraying Glenn Miller is legendary song and dance man Tommy Steele, star of movies such as Finian’s Rainbow, The Happiest Millionaire and the original Arthur Kipps in Half A Sixpence.  I won’t avoid the elephant in the room here, at the age of 78 Steele is almost twice the age that the real Glenn Miller was when he disappeared.  This is the latest in the recent trend of “age blind casting”, following the announcement that Derek Jacobi (age 76) is to play Mercutio in Kenneth Branagh’s new production of Romeo And Juliet this autumn.  Mr Steele steps in and out of character to provide narration in what is a very thin and two dimensional book which glimpses over some of the key points in Miller’s life.  The whole thing feels like being with your grandfather telling you stories about the war.  It has warmth but lacks theatrical substance.  Mr Steele’s voice is a shadow of its former glory and is difficult to be heard in some of the louder numbers.  His American accent also comes and goes throughout the evening.

Playing opposite Mr Steele is the younger, Sarah Soetreat as Helen Burger.  She has a wonderful Garland-esque quality to her singing voice with a lovely warm vibrato that evokes the music of this era.  She brings as much charm as she can to the role but the flawed book denies her any sort of emotional arc.

The six members of the ensemble offer support and help to make the leading man look and sound good.  With choreography by Olivier Award winner, Bill Deamer (Top Hat) and brilliant close harmony vocal arrangements they delight in numbers such as Sing Sing Sing and Chattanooga Choo Choo.

The real star of this production, and the reason you should buy a ticket, is the sensational 16 piece orchestra , under the direction of Andrew Corcoran, who bring Glenn Miller’s gorgeous arrangements to life.  The moment the first few bars of Moonlight Serenade are heard is spine tingling and the bold brass in St Louis Blues March is nothing short of exhilarating. How wonderful it is to hear live music of this magnitude in a touring production.    

The Glenn Miller Story

Tue 15 – Sat 19 Sept

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed, Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)


 
Aug 31st

Curtain Falls on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015

By Cameron Lowe

WHAT THE FRINGE?! AFTER 50,459 PERFORMANCES OF 3,314 SHOWS, THE 2015 EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE DRAWS TO A CLOSE


After 50,459 performances of 3,314 shows in 313 venues across Edinburgh, the curtain falls and the house lights go up on the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

 

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has announced that by Monday afternoon, with hundreds of performances still to take place, an estimated 2,298,090 tickets had been issued for shows across Scotland’s capital. The number of tickets issued reflects a 5.24% increase in comparison to tickets issued by the same point last year. 

 

Kath M Mainland CBE, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said:

 

“As this year’s Fringe draws to a close we can reflect on what a spectacular success it has been. Once again artists and audiences have travelled from across the globe to be a part of this unique cultural event. And with an estimated 2,298,090 tickets issued and many thousands of people attending the 800 free shows in the programme, I’ve no doubt every single person who watched a Fringe show, or experienced this wonderful festival city, will take away unforgettable memories. 

 

“With incredible talent from 49 countries from all over the world taking part this year, the Fringe has once again demonstrated itself to be both truly international and profoundly Scottish.  The 2015 season has firmly cemented Edinburgh’s reputation as the world’s leading festival city. “

 

Fringe Society Chair, Sir Tim O’Shea added:

 

“On behalf of everyone who visited and enjoyed this year’s Fringe, I would like to thank all the creative souls, both onstage and backstage, who brought their work here. Their courage, creativity and sheer hard work is unrivalled anywhere in the world, and without them, the Fringe simply wouldn’t be possible.”

 

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs added:

 

“This has been another incredible year for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The festival continues to evolve and work with the city to expand and offer more and more to audiences from across the world. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe demonstrates the innovative spirit that makes Scottish culture so vibrant. “

 

One new initiative this year was a scheme launched by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, in collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council and Virgin Money aimed at providing complimentary tickets to Fringe shows for children and young people who are being cared for by City of Edinburgh Council. The project called Access Fringe – Looked After Children made £173,172.00 worth of tickets from 233 shows in 38 venues available to children and young people whose circumstances would not normally allow them to participate in cultural activity. Access Fringe – Looked After Children is a part of the Fringe Society’s commitment to making the Fringe accessible to all and is one of a series of initiatives over the years to come to tackle the physical, economic, social and geographic barriers that prevent people from participating.

 

Other highlights in 2015 included the participation of a total of fourteen new venues across the city. These included the return of the famous St. Stephen’s Church in Stockbridge under the banner of Momentum Venues, Underbelly launching their Circus Hub on the Meadows in the city’s southside and SpaceUK debuting a new three floor venue called SpaceTriplex in The Prince Philip Building on Hill Place.

 

The Fringe Society unveiled two new commercial partnerships in 2015; with Airbnb and the Caledonian Sleeper. Both these relationships offered new opportunities for Fringe participants and audiences.

 

The Royal Mail celebrated this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe by issuing a special postmark, applied to stamped UK mail from 07-31 August. Royal Mail’s postmarks are reserved for special occasions and are used to recognise significant events, historical anniversaries or support of charity. It was the first time in the Royal Mail’s 500 year history that a festival has been featured on a postmark.

 

Award-winning comedian and theatre-maker Bryony Kimmings delivered the 2015 Fringe Central Welcome Address to participants, organised by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. The welcome address, designed to welcome and inspire participants, was attended by a record number of people. Bryony Kimmings, an Associate Artist at Soho Theatre and a Fringe participant herself, encouraged participants to take advantage of over 85 free events hosted throughout August, to help develop performance skills, expand networks and advance careers. 

 

A wide range of awards were on offer throughout the festival organised by a range of organisations. Euan’s Guide, the disabled access review website launched their Fringe awards, acknowledging a show and a venue for their outstanding efforts to include disabled audiences at this year’s Fringe.

Aug 26th

FIND YOUR PLACE ON AVENUE Q

By Mark Ridyard

Avenue Q
More than a decade after making its debut on Broadway, Avenue Q opened last night at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow.

For those unaware of the world of Avenue Q, the principle is very simple – it’s a kind of Sesame Street on stage, but the kind of show that advertises itself as unsuitable for any under the age of 14. The performers on stage are dressed in black, and spend the show manipulating puppets through a tongue-in-cheek, coming-of-age storyline.

With this in mind, it’s probably hard to understand how a show with such a strange premise managed a five-year-run in London’s West End, not to mention the Tony Awards and Grammy nomination that also came its way.

However, a quick glance at the programme revealed the name Robert Lopez as the co-author of the show’s music and lyrics – the same Robert Lopez who co-authored the songs in the massive Disney hit Frozen for which he won an Oscar.

And the music in Avenue Q didn’t disappoint. Whether it was the raunchy “I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today” or the haunting “There’s A Fine, Fine Line” at the end of Act One, we were taken on a terrific journey through a wide range of different styles and moods.

The storyline followed the lives of a group of friends who, in a very amusing, satirical and foul-mouthed fashion, are realising that their parents’ repeated assurances about how special they were as children were a long way from the reality the are experiencing as adults. Despite the age of the show, it felt fresh and vibrant – simplistic staging, but using lighting and costumes of the puppets to brilliant effect.

But what of the performers themselves: the puppeteers? Well, this is where the Glasgow audience needed to “suspend their disbelief” somewhat – if they were expecting to see life-size dummies (in the mould of Shrek: The Musical or Disney On Ice) then would have been severely disappointed. Instead, they were treated to something much more subtle and, at times, technically astonishing with the cast using a variety of hand-puppets and marionettes as well as having to voice several different characters in the same scene.

There were a small number of “humans” who appeared on stage, one of which was the character of Gary Coleman – unusually, in this tour, played by a female actress.

Overall, the quality of the acting, puppeteering and singing was a joy to behold – to find performers who can do one of these three things well is hard enough, but to fill a touring production with talented individuals who can do all three is astonishing.

There was a liberal amount of swearing and references to adult themes (one of the songs is titled “The Internet Is For Porn”, to give you some idea) so I would have to advise than under-16s stay at home for this one; but if you’re looking for hearty laughs, intelligent humour and terrific musical numbers, then Avenue Q is the place for you!

Avenue Q
at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow
Tuesday 25th – Saturday 29th August 2015
Buy tickets for Avenue Q at The King's Glasgow

 

Aug 19th

Curiously Brilliant

By Mark Ridyard

Curious Banner

Just over 3 years since its opening at The National Theatre, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time made its way to the King’s Theatre, Glasgow, last night for the start of a 6-performance-run.

It focuses on the life of a teenager with Asperger Syndrome who, as the tale begins, is accused of murdering a neighbour’s dog with a garden fork. The story follows his investigation into the dog’s death, as well as the relationship with his parents and teacher, and is based on the 2003 novel by Mark Haddon. The original production holds a record for the most Olivier Awards wins (seven) and works as a “play within a play”.

Walking into the auditorium 15 minutes before curtain, your eyes are instantly drawn to the open stage, in the centre of which lies the dead dog with the garden fork still in situ. In addition, the whole stage is framed by what looks like graph paper in the dim lighting. But something else is apparent in the auditorium. Something that makes this production a real rarity – the wave of anticipation that you can feel in the audience.

The show has obviously been praised by audiences and critics alike over the years and it’s clear that this opening-night audience have high expectations for The Curious Incident… although this reviewer heard many of them admitting that they had no idea about what the story entailed. Further glances around the theatre confirmed that a near-capacity crowd had made it into The King’s and it should be noted that they remained both enthusiastic and enthralled throughout the full two-and-a-half-hours.

The production offers some unique theatrical moments – combining first class acting, wonderful special effects plus amazing sound and lighting design to create an remarkably enveloping production, driving you through a wide range of different emotions as we follow the life of Christopher’s Boone. The actor playing this part is one of Glasgow’s own – Joshua Jenkins, a former student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music – and offers a performance of stunning brilliance.

Jenkins is skilfully supported by a small but talented cast who, in keeping with the general feel of the show, often move seamlessly from one character to another at, in some cases literally, the flick of a switch.

The staging remains open throughout – with the performance area using lighting and projection effects to move the action from inside bedrooms to train stations to green parks in an instant, always holding the attention of the audience and ensuring that the pace of the play is in perfect synchronisation with how the character of Christopher is feeling.

But, at the end of the night, were the audience’s high expectations met?

Well, there was a standing ovation, applause continuing well after the cast had taken their final bow, and a sizeable amount of people turning to the person sitting next to them and uttering “That was brilliant!”…

Curiously brilliant, in fact.


The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

The King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Tuesday 18 - Saturday 22 August 2015

Buy Tickets

Jun 24th

Twelve Angry Men, Theatre Royal Glasgow, 22nd - 27th June 2015

By Jon Cuthbertson

Tom Conti delivers an endearing and understated performance as Juror 8 in this tense 1950s American drama.

 

Reginald Rose’s script started life as a TV play, before being made into the famous film version starring Henry Fonda, but it is on stage it has the most impact. The story follows a jury after the closing statements of a case has been read. Their initial snap vote has the defendant guilty at 11-1 of murdering his father – the result of which would lead to the death sentence. The only juror in his corner is Juror 8 (played with an exceptionally deft touch here by Tom Conti) who eventually talks the rest of the jurors into having a discussion before they make any final decisions. With racism and the men’s own prejudices affecting their judgement, the play in itself is an interesting look at society as a whole.

 

Juror 8’s adversary is Juror 3, played by Andrew Lancel. An angry man whose exterior hides his own unresolved emotions, he likens the defendant to his own estranged son and seems to be using this case to release some of that anger. In amongst the drama, there are many moments of humour too – the 12 men are given real personalities and their clashes can be both comical and tense in equal measure. Sean Power’s wise-cracking Juror 7 provides many of the laughs in his rush to end the debate so he can make his baseball game that evening.

 

Michael Pavelka’s classy set allows a chance to see the emotions of the characters, with frames instead of walls and an extremely slow moving revolve which rotates the jurors table throughout the play. Christopher Haydon’s direction has given the play a natural movement – the journey for each of the jurors is evident and portrayed both physically and in the execution of the dialogue.

 

The skilful performances, the smart direction, thoughtful design and the clever and witty script all work in unison to deliver an excellent production which doesn’t fail to deliver.

 

So, the jury is out – and my verdict? Get your ticket for this one – it’s a decision you won’t regret.

 

 

 

Listing Information

 

Mon 22 – Sat 27 June

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7647 (bkg fee)

 

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

Jun 24th

Twelve Angry Men, Theatre Royal Glasgow, 22nd - 27th June 2015

By Jon Cuthbertson

Tom Conti delivers an endearing and understated performance as Juror 8 in this tense 1950s American drama.

 

Reginald Rose’s script started life as a TV play, before being made into the famous film version starring Henry Fonda, but it is on stage it has the most impact. The story follows a jury after the closing statements of a case has been read. Their initial snap vote has the defendant guilty at 11-1 of murdering his father – the result of which would lead to the death sentence. The only juror in his corner is Juror 8 (played with an exceptionally deft touch here by Tom Conti) who eventually talks the rest of the jurors into having a discussion before they make any final decisions. With racism and the men’s own prejudices affecting their judgement, the play in itself is an interesting look at society as a whole.

 

Juror 8’s adversary is Juror 3, played by Andrew Lancel. An angry man whose exterior hides his own unresolved emotions, he likens the defendant to his own estranged son and seems to be using this case to release some of that anger. In amongst the drama, there are many moments of humour too – the 12 men are given real personalities and their clashes can be both comical and tense in equal measure. Sean Power’s wise-cracking Juror 7 provides many of the laughs in his rush to end the debate so he can make his baseball game that evening.

 

Michael Pavelka’s classy set allows a chance to see the emotions of the characters, with frames instead of walls and an extremely slow moving revolve which rotates the jurors table throughout the play. Christopher Haydon’s direction has given the play a natural movement – the journey for each of the jurors is evident and portrayed both physically and in the execution of the dialogue.

 

The skilful performances, the smart direction, thoughtful design and the clever and witty script all work in unison to deliver an excellent production which doesn’t fail to deliver.

 

So, the jury is out – and my verdict? Get your ticket for this one – it’s a decision you won’t regret.

 

 

 

Listing Information

 

Mon 22 – Sat 27 June

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7647 (bkg fee)

 

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

Jun 24th

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Sean Stirling

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Give them what they want…

That is the title of the opening number of this musical adaptation of the 1988 movie that starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin as a pair of con men on the French Riviera.  Well if what you want is a great evening’s entertainment then the cast of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will most certainly give you that.

Set in the fictional seaside village of Beumont-sur-Mer, Lawrence Jameson (played in the movie by Michael Caine) exudes charm and sophistication.  With the help of local detective, Andre Thibault, Lawrence tricks wealthy women into handing over their money and jewelry to him, while also stealing their hearts in the process.  All is going well until the arrival of brash swindler Freddy Benson.  Freddy is in awe of Lawrence ‘s wealth and is eager to learn from this master con man so that he too can have “Great Big Stuff.”

Following Freddy’s training Lawrence decides that there is not enough room in Beumont-sur-Mer for two con-men and so a bet is made that whoever can charm $50,000 dollars out of new arrival Christine Colgate will be allowed to stay while the loser will have to leave.  Freddy stoops to great lengths to win Miss Colgate’s attention and money but is thwarted at every turn by Lawrence.

This adaptation features a very witty book by Jeffrey Lane that remains mostly faithful to the original screenplay but with the addition of a new sub-plot where sidekick Andre makes a play for Muriel Eubanks, one of the wealthy women previously duped by Lawrence.

Music and lyrics are by Tony Yazbek, who also provided the score for the musicalized version of The Full Monty.    The main theme of the show echoes the Henry Mancini scores of the Pink Panther movies.  Lawrence’s musical motifs are suitably Cole Porter-esque while Freddy gets down right funky.

The production is directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, who is well known on Broadway and in the West End for his work on hit shows such as Legally Blonde, Kinky Boots and Hairspray.  The man’s love and respect for musical theatre is apparent in everything he does and he makes this production a sheer delight to watch.  He even goes so far as to break down the fourth wall in some clever places.

Leading this production and following in the footsteps of Michael Caine and Steve Martin are West End stalwart Michael Praed as Lawrence and former pop star Noel Sullivan as Freddy.  Praed plays Lawrence as the perfect English gentleman worthy of 007 while Sullivan is a lovable rogue.  They are supported by Mark Benton (Andre) and Geraldine Fitzgerald (Muriel) who make a lovely comic pairing reminiscent of Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold in Gigi.  Coming in between the boys is Carley Stenson as Christine Colgate who plays the role with a charm and zest.  A terrific ensemble bring energy and flare to each well executed production number.

 A simple but beautiful set designed by Peter McKintosh and lit well by Howard Harrison allowed the audience to be transported to the French Riviera.

 This musical comedy is simply the sizzling must see of the summer.  I was lucky to see the original West End run at the Savoy Theatre last year and am so happy to report that this touring version has retained all of the original prestige that will delight audiences up and down the UK.  

 

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Tue 23 June– Sat 4 July

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

 

 

Jun 17th

Calamity? What calamity?

By Mark Ridyard

Calamity Jane & Wild Bill Hickok - Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
PHOTO: MANUEL HARLAN

“Take me back to the black hills
The black hills of Dakota…”

It’s with these words that Calamity Jane opened last night at the Kings Theatre in Glasgow.

Not words coming from the stage, you understand – words being sung by a significant proportion of the sizeable Kings audience! On stage, a man playing a banjo; but, in the auditorium, members of the public singing heartily as he plucked the strings.

And it was this that set the tone for an enjoyable night’s entertainment, set at the “Golden Garter” in Deadwood, and featuring Jody Prenger (Winner of I’d Do Anything and West-End regular) and Tom Lister (Carl King in Emmerdale) as Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok respectively.

Before the curtain was raised, it seems like something was missing – namely, an orchestra or band sitting patiently waiting to strike-up the overture – and a few people sitting around me in the audience were quick to voice their concerns. However, Director Nikolai Foster and Musical Supervisor Catherine Jayes had played a blinder. There was no need for an orchestra in “the pit”, as all the instruments would be played by the cast on-stage throughout the entire show!

This approach really showcased the wealth of performing talent on-show, with every performer playing an instrument (violin, double-bass, trumpet etc) and even Jody Prenger herself treating us to a session on the spoons.

The set remains static throughout, with the performers helping to form certain scenes (such as the rides on the stagecoach) and subtle lighting changes transforming the Golden Garter into a classy Chicago theatre as Calamity tries to lure the popular actress Adelaid Adams back to Deadwood.

Jody Prenger’s Calamity is a both a nod to the performance of Doris Day in the 1953 film version, but also encompasses some subtle (and not-so-subtle) characterisation which brings something fresh and endearing to the role. Her singing voice, as you would expect, is bang-on-the-money but what’s noticeable its clarity, meaning that those who are new to the show can easily follow every word that she is singing and saying. Her regular “asides” to other characters in the show made for some of the biggest laughs and cheers of the evening.

Tom Lister gives a controlled yet humorous performance as Wild Bill which provides excellent chemistry in his exchanges with Calamity and allows us to see the many sides of his character.

The supporting cast, as a whole, are very strong, but particular mention should go to Sophia Ragavelas for her shy-yet-blossoming Katie Brown and Bobby Delaney for his excellent turn as Francis Fryer.

Anyone who comes to the show wanting to simply see the film version performed on stage will not get their wish – but what they will get is a lively, energetic and, at times, subtle production. And, if the audiences for the rest of this week are anything like the opening night’s, they’ll also get the chance for a big sing-song, too!

Calamity Jane is on at the Kings Theatre, Glasgow, until Saturday 20th June 2015.

Click here to buy tickets for Calamity Jane at The Kings Theatre, Glasgow

Jun 16th

The Producers, Theatre Royal Glasgow, 15th - 20th June 2015

By Jon Cuthbertson

Mel Brooks’ cult film made a splash when it was first turned into a musical, winning 12 Tony awards and 3 Oliviers. However, that pedigree seemed to be lacking when we saw the curtain rise on a set that looked like it had been borrowed from West Side Story.

 

This seemed like The Producers on a budget (ironic considering the subject matter of the show) and it looks like the money has been spent on booking the big names in the cast as opposed to providing them a set worthy of the show. There were however redeeming features. Cory English as Max Bialystock provides a star turn in a role that was described by its originator (Tony award winning Nathan Lane) as “This part wasn't written with a human being in mind - at least not a human being who has to perform it eight times a week." due to the stamina and energy required for the role. Mr English has comic timing, nimble feet and great vocal control all wrapped in his deceptively round and diminutive package. Following his story as formerly successful producer, now suffering from a major flop, we then meet Jason Manford, as nervy accountant and wannabe producer Leo Bloom. Mr Manford did surprise me with his vocal ability – it was much better than I expected from someone with no training, however I would rather have just seen the role performed by someone better suited and able. The lack of dancing ability limited the options for certain sections of the show that could have helped add in some of the spectacle that we were missing in the set design.

 

To put some magic back into the show, a few nice touches have been added to freshen up this production and Tiffany Graves’ continual (and at sometimes seemingly impossible) costume changes is one that worked extremely well – except we’d ran out of money by the bows and she was back re-using an earlier costume! Producers – grab some money from the little old lady investors and buy her a nice dress for the end – please! Ms Graves’ introduction as her character Ulla is a great vehicle to show off her voice and dancing skills – I was out of breath just watching the cartwheels and high kicks, never mind thinking about trying to sing too.

 

I have always been a big fan of David Bedella, performing here as director Roger De Bris, however he was beautifully upstaged by his co-star Stephane Anelli as his ultra-camp assistant Carmen Ghia. A hard working ensemble (particularly Jay Webb) try their best to bring this show to life, but without the set pieces (in particular the ceiling mirror to allow the iconic dance section in “Springtime For Hitler”) to back them up, it all seems a little tired. Perhaps the Producers here needed to find a few more of those little old lady investors to help pay for the set and production values that this show needs.

 

 

Listing Information

 

Mon 15 – Sat 20 Jun                 

Evenings: 7.30pm                                            

Matinees: Thu & Sat at 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (booking fee)

 

0844 871 7647 (booking fee)

 

photo credit Manuel Harlan

Jun 10th

Puttin' On The Ritz - King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Sean Stirling

 

If you fancy putting on a top hat, tying up your white tie and brushing up your tails then strut those spats down to the King’s Theatre, Glasgow where this week you will be transported back to golden era of Hollywood.  Puttin’ On The Ritz – The Song & Dance Extravaganza is a celebration of many of the great songs from the movies of the 1920s, 30s and 40s including Easter Parade, Top Hat and An American In Paris to name but a few.

 This musical revue features songs by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, three composers who made significant contributions to what has become known as the Great American Songbook.  Songs such as ‘Embraceable You’, ‘Cheek To Cheek’ and ‘Anything Goes’ have become standards recorded by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart and even Lady Gaga and in this production you can’t help fall in love with these songs all over again. 

Brought to life by 6 singers and a troop of 8 dancers the evening races along with memorable hit after hit.  The dancers tap, flap and jitterbug their way through routines, created by choreographer/director Emma Rogers, that would not look out of place in a Busby Berkley movie.  Every lift and turn is delivered with panache and elegance.

 The singers all have their own special moments to shine throughout the evening.  Hannah Minster gives a beautiful understated rendition of ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ while Rick Rojas delivers a sexy, bluesy ‘Minnie The Moocher’.  Soprano Lucy Van Gasse breaks hearts with ‘But Not For Me’ while Adam Ellis shows off his vocal versatility in ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ where he switches effortlessly between a rich baritone croon to a sweet light falsetto.  Simon Schofield proves himself to be a classic song & dance man in ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)’ alongside Rebecca Lisewski who later gives a thrilling performance of ‘My Man’ a song originally performed by Fanny Brice and later Barbra Streisand in the movie Funny Girl.

 Providing a Fred & Ginger element to the evening’s proceedings are special guests, Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor, both stars of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.  Together they wowed the audience with their dazzling routines. Kristina having to do everything Robin does, only backwards and in heels as Ginger Rogers once jibed.

 The cast are dressed in dazzling gowns and sharp suits, designed by Heather Davis, that could easily have been lifted straight from the lot at Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios.

 My only gripe is the lack of live musical accompaniment.  The cast perform to pre-recorded music.  While the recordings are well produced it detracts somewhat from the live experience that you expect when you attend the theatre.  I appreciate it is expensive to tour a band to produce the full Hollywood sound but these songs can sound just as good, sometimes better, in stripped back arrangements for a small ensemble.  Live accompaniment also would allow the singers and musicians to interact with each other and really do these songs justice.

 That aside the superb dancing and sublime singing will keep you entertained and certainly brightened up this reviewers evening.

 Puttin’ On The Ritz runs at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow until Saturday, 13th June 2015 before continuing on it’s UK tour 

 Puttin’ on the Ritz

King’s Theatre Glasgow

Tue 9 – Sat 13 Jun

Tue – Sat eves 7.30pm

Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)